Few women in rock have been able to bridge their talent and image as well as Pat Benatar, and even fewer have managed to sustain both so gracefully. No longer the 1980s queen of rock whose MTV-ready look was famously “cultivated” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the 60-year-old Benatar still has a youthful vibe about her. She looked fit as she took the stage, her voice clear and strong from the get-go, giving the essential energy to “All Fired Up” and “Invincible.”
Sharing the bill with guitarist-husband Neil Giraldo, her musical and personal partner of nearly 35 years, Benatar explained the origins of songs such as “Hell Is for Children” (from reading a New York Times story on child abuse) and the significance of “You Better Run” (the second song ever played on MTV). Giraldo showed himself to be an underrated guitarist, turning in a fiery solo in “Promises in the Dark” while also jumping behind the piano on “We Belong,” with only a bassist and drummer sharing the stage with the couple.
With a voice still possessing its sexy snarl and raw conviction, Benatar doesn’t have the range she once had. But she delivered each song with authority, bringing the crowd to its feet for the rest of the show with megahits “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love Is a Battlefield,” helping keep the rust of nostalgia from tarnishing each tune.
Taking a break a little more than an hour into the show, the encore was a bit lackluster, with lesser tracks “Everybody Lay Down” and “Let’s Stay Together” (not the Al Green song) being included over, say, “Fire and Ice” or “Shadows of the Night.” But the night got an appropriate sendoff with the hard-driving “Heartbreaker,” complete with Giraldo biting “Ring of Fire,” Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” and The Godfather theme in his final shot in the spotlight. In the end, however, Benatar remained the true star, still the coolest chick in the room. ★★★☆☆